Reader Story: Lola and Me

A great escape

By Denice Davenport, Cheyenne, Wyoming

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“Denice, before you go…” I hear that voice in my head, that teacher voice, that voice that does so much for me and yet drains me by the end of the day. Every paper left ungraded, every lesson plan left incomplete, every student left unsaved is forgotten as I walk out the door. I have one mission right now and it doesnt involve the vanilla world. My mission is to get on my cruiser, my Lola, and ride. The freedom, the power, the adrenaline rush will be mine with one turn of the throttle.

Denice with “Lola,” her Yamaha V Star 1100.

Id never known the feeling of complete abandon until I started riding. As soon as I climb aboard and coast out of the parking lot, the cares of the day start to fade. Past the work left unfinished, past the students I cant save, past the politics, it all disappears. My machine and I are one, I surrender willingly. I silently wish everyone well as I shrug off the cares of the day. Those problems cant catch me now. The adults who look down their noses, clucking their tongues about the “biker” and all the stereotypes that accompany that moniker, the students who are so damaged by the adults in their lives that they have no idea what its like to be whole, the demands of a society that pays lip service to our young people but shies away from actually solving the problems. At the end of the day, Im free to consider my needs; the thrill of taking my destiny into my own hands is mine.

Sometimes my Lola and I, we slow down just to enjoy the ride. We head towards the back roads then, so we can revel in the twists and turns. We fuse our thoughts as we take the curves. Those ungraded papers can wait, the lesson plans can be completed later the joy of riding takes over. We lean into the turns, gaining momentum as we sweep around the curve, confident that Newtons laws will see us to the other side. Sometimes though, that teacher voice starts to slip in. When that happens, I start seeing the world not as it is but as I wish it to be. I see the best in everyone, even the most damaged students, knowing that I will soon find the key to help them prevail over the torments that are their lives.

Maybe thats the best thing about riding the realization that comes with knowing the world can be changed for the better. With each turn of the throttle, with each lean into a curve, I feel my body becoming stronger, able to meet the demands of the world. My certainty in who I am makes me confident in my super-human abilities. “Denice, before you go…” Its OK now. Im ready for whatever lies ahead. I know that I need only think of my rides to keep the world in perspective. The adventure, the freedom and the power that are mine will slumber quietly, waiting for that ride home at the end of the day.

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24 thoughts on Reader Story: Lola and Me

  1. Wow, and I thought I was the only one with a bike named “Lola”! While I am still new at riding and I'm 53, I can relate exactly to how you feel about riding your bike. I love it and can't wait to get out and ride this year. It's been a very long winter here so getting out on my Harley is something I'm definitely looking forward to. It's such a freeing experience and hard to explain to those who've never done it before. Can't wait to fire my Lola up!

  2. As a fellow teacher of 34 years and a fellow biker of five years I totally agree with your article. Words can't explain the peaceful feeling I get as soon as I sit in the seat. And then as soon as I take off nothing else matters. I just wish I had discovered this stress release sooner, but I seem to be making up for it now. I love to ride.

  3. Denise, thanks for sharing your story. I can relate. I'm still very new at riding and when I get on my bike all geared up I still have butterflies in my belly but as soon as it starts rolling, I start smiling. It's involuntary! I have no control, I just get happy and I start smiling and I go into this wonderful zone where I just know that everything is going to be OK. When I arrive back at home, safe and sound, it's like some of life's junk has been blown off of my shoulders and I'm ready to take on more.

  4. I know the feeling. Everything gets left behind and only the wind, the song of the road, the hum of the tires, and, in the late spring — the smell of the honeysuckle and wild roses in the evening as you roar through the night — is unforgettable — a taste of heaven on earth. Whether you ride a custom Vega (Ace) or ride your Harley (you), you know what “being one with the road” and “one with the world,” means at that very special moment.

  5. I own and operate my own business. What that means is that pretty much every minute of every work day, someone is needing something from me – employees, customers, suppliers/vendors, etc. And, I generally work six days a week, 10-plus hours a day with just a few full weekends off here and there. It also turns out that most of the responsibilities of taking care of my elderly mother, disabled brother and others falls on me too.

    So, for me riding is about maintaining sanity. Only then am I free from the stress and responsibilities that make up my non-riding life. When I ride, I am responsible for only my own happiness and well being. Outside of the common courtesies of the road and maintaining safe riding habits for the protection of all, I am not responsible for any other person but myself.

    I am free to let my heart soar as I ride into the wind. Free to feel my body hum as it moves with the bike through the curves of a beautiful back road. Free to feel feminine and beautiful as I become one with the grace of my bike's movements.

    I ride with good friends, most of whom are my sisters from the local chapter of Women in the Wind. So, after the ride, I can spend time with them, knowing they understand how I feel (unlike the non-riding people in my life) and the joy of that bond adds even more to the riding experience. How blessed am I?

  6. Denice,
    That's a nice reminder to us all about the pleasure we get from riding bikes, and the instant release it provides from our work and “life's busy things” that hold us back from truly living and being who we are. I always think of riding as not only a physical sensory experience, but a kind of spiritual experience. It's a chance for the kid in me to escape the confines of my aging adult body, and enjoy playing.

    Most of us are in professions or work situations that can really impact on who we really are. It can be a struggle to be “you” and be the professional you are employed to be, and to be available to provide help to those who put demands on your time. My wife is a teacher, so I know the demands of her, and your profession.

    Bike riding demands your presence in each moment, like no other means of transport. Because of that, it is the ideal meditation and provider of a complete immersion in now.
    I love to really experience that travel with all the various sensory nuances and pleasures riding provides.

  7. Your article was such an eye-opener. Thank you. My best friend has recently started riding and she is a teacher (as was I). Unfortunately she is judged unfairly by her bike riding status. I know she loves her new freedom and hope this will continue to offer her a form of therapy at the end of a rough day.

  8. I don't know what subject you teach but I hope it's something to do with writing. I feel exactly the same but never could have expressed it as well.

  9. You couldn't have said it better Denice. I'm in the upside down world of real estate. There are days I feel upside down. That is when I know I have to get on my trike (Suzuki Intruder Volusia by Lehman) and ride. Since I live in Minnesota with a foot or more of snow I have to wait for the spring thaw. Once I see that blade of grass I will be climbing on my trike and I'm going to be riding the back roads. I will sing, I will scream, I will hum, but I will a be free spirit and I'll come back and not see the world so upside down.

  10. Great job Mom! Well written. I'm happy you have found something that grounds you so well. Just please don't get too close to the ground.

  11. Wonderful description of the feeling we get from the freedom of riding. Another horseback rider here. Yes, the feel is similar – the loss of negative and the fulfillment of postive thoughts is very similar whether on the back of an iron horse or horse.

    Your article makes me long for better riding season. The cobwebs of negative/drowning thoughts is much needed after the dark/cold winter months!

  12. I definitely feel connected to this story. Thanks for submitting it.

  13. I had a ride named “Lola!” My present ride is “Lolita,” and I thought she was the only one.

  14. Way to go girl! As I sit at my desk at the end of a long day I know exactly how you feel. Teaching is an awesome job and an awesome responsibilty. To be able to truly get away from it for awhile is hard to do. Like you, riding my Harley Deuce lets me escape for just a little while. My only regret is that I didn't discover this joy sooner. I am 51 and have been riding for 3 1/2 years. I have a lot of riding time to catch up on! Oh yes, by the way, I've ridden horses all my life — must be something about it.

  15. I have the same feelings when I ride. It started on horses, racing 50 and 100 miles on my horse. Now it is every time I hope on my trike. I gave up the two wheels due to living down nine miles of gravel roads. I didn't like riding out on the two wheeler. My trike took care of that. Riding is the best way to to lose that stress and whatever is bothering you.

    Denice, you said it so well for all of us. I can't wait for the snow to melt and get out on my trike, or out riding my dirt bike in the Black Hills. Either takes away all of my stress.

  16. I understand your love for riding so completely. I can't wait for the moments on my motorcycle, the worries of the world and the daily grind simply melt away. Whether I ride for hours or just a few minutes, it totally changes my perspective on life. I cherish those moments, and I only wish that everyone had something in their life that can take them to that level of peace, as I do.

  17. The best place to think is on the back of a bike. The second best is in the shower. You describe the reasons why very nicely. You can't get any real thinking done until the routine worries let themselves be washed away. Thank you!

  18. Denice,
    You must be my long lost twin. I don't mean that we are identical in looks, rather we are identical in thought! I couldn't believe it when I read your story, but it's so true — that teacher voice following you until you turn the ignition. All the responsibilities that should be taking priority are forgotten for now, if only for a while. And oh, isn't it worth it! We are refreshed, restored, and focused because we've solved all the world's problems (or maybe we've at least momentarily forgotten one that we know we can't) in one day's afternoon ride. And always knowing we can find reprieve in just thinking about our next ride gives the greatest joy!

  19. I have experienced both. I have ridden horses in many a contest of speed and cooperative trust — dismounting and handling, or crawling through a barrel. I have experienced the thrill of competitive racing in motocross and enjoyed the oneness you get with releasing the helter-skelter mindset given with everyday life. Ah what a feeling. Too bad everybody doesn't ride one. Where I live roads are too busy and people don't respect riders.

  20. You have described exactly why I love, adore, am addicted to riding — horseback riding. I couldn't have said it better myself. I know that the passion I have for horses would instantly transfer to motorcycles, and does when I am a passenger. If I could ever master shifting the darn things…
    But I'm willing to try again if I can get one with training wheels.

  21. Bravo Hon!
    I told you it was more than worthy of submitting for publication!

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